India: Police Assaults and Detains Journalist Who was Covering a Protest

Indian police assaulted and detained journalist Sakshi Joshi while she was covering a protest led by women athletes over alleged sexual harassment by the head of India’s wrestling foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported.

Sakshi JoshiIndian journalist Sakshi Joshi after being released from detention at Delhi's Mandir Marg police station. (Photo: Sakshi Joshi/Twitter, License)Joshi is an independent journalist who reports on politics and social issues on her YouTube channel, which has over 840,000 subscribers.

She arrived at the scene and started filming after police reportedly assaulted the protesters.

However, officers told her to stop recording, then grabbed her, pulled her hair, ripped her pants, seized her phone, and pushed her into a police bus.

Joshi declared to CPJ that all of the police officers who assaulted her were women.

Nobody at Delhi's Mandir Marg police station could tell her why she was detained. Eventually, she was released and left alone outside the locked gate with her clothes ripped in the middle of the night. Her husband picked her up about 25 minutes later.

Joshi identified the senior officer who ordered her arrest as Hemant Tiwari, who claimed to have reasons for her detention that would be revealed later.

“The harassment, assault, and apparently unlawful detention of journalist Sakshi Joshi while covering a protest against sexual harassment, on World Press Freedom Day, highlight the unsafe environment for women journalists in India,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

In a complaint to the Delhi Police Commissioner, Joshi argued that her detention violated India's criminal procedure code, which states that no woman shall be arrested between sunset and sunrise without prior permission from a judicial magistrate obtained by a female police officer.

When contacted via telephone, Suman Nalwa, the Public Relations Officer for the Delhi Police, refused to comment immediately, claiming that she was not well-informed about the specifics of the case.

CPJ made efforts to obtain a statement from Hemant Tiwari by utilizing both phone calls and messages, but they did not receive a response.

According to the 2023 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which analyzes the environment for journalism in 180 countries and territories, India is ranked 161 and is considered “one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media” with an average of three or four journalists killed in connection with their work every year.